The July 4th, 2017, Independence Day events in Bel Air, Maryland offered fun, patriotic splendor, and educational interest to citizens of the entire region, all during a day that combined beautiful summer weather with typical local thunderstorms!
Tens of thousands of citizens from the greater Bel Air area, from across Harford County, Maryland, the Baltimore metropolitan area, and beyond, participated and enjoyed the traditional small-town events on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017, culminating with the annual parade and one of the best fireworks displays since the fireworks moved to their present shoot-off location.
The entire day’s celebration was under the management of Don Stewart, President of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., which produces and manages events in Bel Air on July 4. Sponsoring Organizations for the 2017 Independence Day Celebration and of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee this year were the Bel Air Auxiliary Police Unit, the Lions Club of Bel Air, the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, Inc., and the Town of Bel Air. The Premier Sponsor was Harford Mutual Insurance Company, in 2017 celebrating its 175th Anniversary.
Events got underway on July 4 at 6:45 am at Bel Air High School with the flag raising ceremony, performed by American Legion Bel Air Post 39. The bugler was Robert Hudson. The national anthem was sung by soprano Pamela Rinehart, accompanied by Miss Bel Air Independence Day 2017 Natalie Brosh.
The traditional pancake and sausage breakfast at Bel Air High School followed, in which over 2000 adults and children partook of the pancakes, blueberry pancakes, chocolate pancakes, juice, milk, coffee, chocolate milk and sausages, prepared and served by volunteers from the Bel Air High School Boosters Association.
During the morning, the Hays House was open to visitors, and offered lawn games and guided tours of the historic facility.
Program Cover Contest Winner
In the week leading up to July 4th, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee distributed 20,000 free programs listing all events and containing much useful information about the 4th of July in Bel Air.
The program’s front cover illustration was selected through a contest open to all Harford County students between the ages of 5 and 14. The winning design was created by Reese Harrison of Bel Air, a student at Homestead-Wakefield Elementary School.
The official program was designed and produced by Michael Blum; prior event photos used in the program were taken by Don Stewart. The 2017 Program was sponsored by the Bel Air Lions Club.
A full roster of daytime competitive events, all free to everyone, were held at various locations in the Town of Bel Air, and extremely large crowds were helped by beautiful weather. Participants in these contests came from as far away as San Francisco, Puerto Rico and New York, of course with the majority coming from Bel Air and the surrounding communities.
The results of the daytime events were as follows:
Horseshoe Pitching (Rockfield Park; event run by David Williams, Greg Cooper, Lisa Williams and Renée Cooper):
1st: Vicki Smith of Darlington
2nd: Aubrey Hoover of Bel Air
1st: Vicki Smith of Darlington and Breanna Smith of Darlington
2nd: Aubrey Hoover of Bel Air and Kendall Harte of Bel Air
1st: Jeff Cooper of Delta, PA
2nd: Mark Farrington of Bel Air
1st: Ricky Lee Morrison of Street, and Jeff Cooper of Delta, PA
2nd: Mark Farrington of Bel Air and Lionel Bowser of Aberdeen
Water Balloon Toss (Shamrock Park; event run by members of the Bel Air Kiwanis Club under the direction of Tim Odell)
Ages 6 and under:
1st: Mason Smith of Havre de Grace
1st: Jude O’Brien from San Francisco and Jen Cashour from Bel Air
2nd: Declan O’Brien from San Francisco and Emily Cashour from Bel Air
1st: Gabe Greathouse from Bel Air and Madie Greathouse from Bel Air
2nd: Kieran McNeill from Bel Air and Dan McNeill from Bel Air
1st: Jessica Pitzer from Forest Hill and John Pitzer from Forest Hill
2nd: Gustavo Sleiman from Cape Coral, FL and Giselle Olivio from Bel Air
1st: Robert Innocenti from Churchville and Melissa Innocent from Churchville
2nd: Donald Potter from Bel Air and Lauren Potter from Bel Air
Costume Contest (Shamrock Park; event run by Michael Blum, Natalie Brosh and “Belle” and “Moana” from The Magic Continues Costume Company)
Best Patriotic Costumes:
1st: Molly Bloch, Age 6, from Bel Air, as a patriotic cupcake
2nd: Wyatt Byrne, Age 6, from Bel Air, as a patriotic soldier
3rd: Sophia Crue, Age 8, from Street, as a star-spangled girl
Best General Costumes:
1st: Johanna Liszewski, Age 7, from Bel Air, as a patriotic “Minion”
2nd: Sydney Hergun, Age 16, from Bel Air, as Agent Carter and Captain
3rd: Colter Mace, Age 6, from Bel Air, as Soldier Man
Uncle Sam Says (Shamrock Park; event run by Michael Blum, Natalie Brosh and volunteers from the crowd)
1st: Liam McDowell from Bel Air
2nd: Nate Noyes from Baltimore
3rd: Max Balto from Fallston
1st: Brooklyn Szewczyk from Bel Air
2nd: Ally Mac from Bel Air
3rd Maddie Panowitz from Bel Air
1st: Joseph Balto from Fallston
2nd: Olivia Ballard from New York
3rd: Lily Green from Bel Air
1st: Matt Battaglia from Bel Air
2nd: Chandra Little from Baltimore
3rd: Abby Battaglia from Bel Air
Watermelon Eating Contest (Shamrock Park; event run by JoAnn Hathazi and student and adult volunteers, including from Girl Scout Troop 155)
Ages 6 and under:
1st: Kyle Torbint from Bel Air
2nd: Gavin McNulty from Bel Air
3rd: Olivia Torbint from Bel Air
1st: Angela Balto from Fallston
2nd: Max Balto from Fallston
3rd: Eoin O’Reilly from White Marsh
1st: Joseph Ceci from Bel Air
2nd: Robbie O’Neill from Charlotte, NC
3rd: Kennedy Mendoza from Fallston
1st: Arnold Franco from Bel Air
2nd: Dan Petz from Havre de Grace
3rd: Jorge Valentine from Puerto Rico
Bicycle Rodeo (Bel Air Elementary School parking lot; run by BAPD Officer Rick Krause and the BAPD Explorers)
Best Decorated — Girls: Harper Bradshaw of Bel Air
Best Decorated — Boys: Blake Adams of Forest Hill
1st: Cyrus Murman
2nd: Harper Bradshaw
3rd: Drew Stiles
Ages 5 and under:
1st: Alison Dalto of Havre de Grace
2nd: Cooper Pigott of Bel Air
3rd: Gage Sathero f Bel Air
1st: Jonah Buckleman of Bel Air
2nd: Brooke Boesscl of Bel Air
3rd: Sam Bradshaw of Bel Air
1st: Lilly Smeltzer of Bel Air
2nd: Ethan Doster of Abingdon
3rd: Victor Schlecker of Darlington
1st: Olivia Krause of Joppatowne
2nd: Samantha Mattox
3rd: Drew Evans of Bel Air
After a recess for the afternoon, the traditional parade began at the intersection of South Main Street and Idlewild Street on the south side of Bel Air.
Although a tremendous thunderstorm with driving wind and rain hit the town at about 4:30 pm, interrupting the staging process, the rain stopped by 5:30 pm, allowing units to be put in the proper order and the crowd to assemble.
Before the parade, flags were given out to all children in the crowd along the parade route by volunteers from the Bel Air Lions Club.
The parade started right on time on dry streets, at the stroke of 6 pm, and was greeted with approval by an estimated crowd of 35,000 spectators.
The parade was organized and managed by Parade Chairman Michael Blum, with the help of volunteer Parade Marshals David Williams, Aaron Cahall, Dave Andrews, Jack Deal, Greg Cooper, Ron Eastridge, Andrew Politz, Bill Smith, Lisa Williams, Annette Blum, Bill McCutcheon, John McCutcheon, Logan Folmer, Zach Heckman, Dan Folmer, David Blum, Angie Edmond, Jon Garvin, Chris Garvin, Hayden Topf, Vincent Nohe, Katie Nohe, Steve Quinn and extra volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 777.
Kim Politz, Mary Ann Williams & Perry Thompson were the Reviewing Stand Marshals, and Narrator Don Morrison was aided by “text script confirmers” Perry Thompson and Alex Krowzow. Michael Krantz ably fulfilled the SHUTTLE role on very short notice.
Many of the parade units were sponsored by area businesses. Banners in the parade celebrating these sponsors were carried by volunteers under the direction of David Williams. Parade sponsors included:
- Balsamo, Stewart, Lutters & Ruth, CPAs, sponsor of the Carolina Gold Drum & Bugle Corps
- Buontempo Brothers/Tower Restaurant, sponsor of the Patterson Mill High School Band
- HAR-CO Maryland Federal Credit Union, sponsor of the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps
- Jarrettsville Federal Savings & Loan Association, sponsor of the Thunder Brigade Drum & Bugle Corps
- Jones Junction Auto Dealerships, sponsor of the C. Milton Wright High School Band
- Klein’s ShopRites of Maryland, sponsor of Fusion Core
- Plaza Ford, sponsor of the Fallston High School Band
- PNC Bank, sponsor of the Bel Air High School Band
- TD Bank, sponsor of the Havre de Grace High School Band
6 independent Parade Judges viewed the parade, whose theme was ONE FROM MANY — CELEBRATING THE CREATION OF THE UNITED STATES! — and awarded the following prizes:
JUDGES’ AWARDS FOR SPECIAL MERIT in the 2017 BEL AIR PARADE (alpha order):
APG CENTENNIAL “HELMET CAR”
BEL AIR VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY
- MILTON WRIGHT HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND
EDGEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND
HARFORD STOCKYARDS 4-H CLUB
HAVRE DE GRACE HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND
OAK GROVE BAPTIST CHURCH
Specific Unit Types:
1st Place: $400: CUB SCOUT PACK 313
2nd Place: $300: DAUGHTERS/CHILDREN/SONS of the AMERICAN
3rd Place: $200: HARFORD COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
4th Place: $100: HARFORD COUNTY FARM FAIR
5th Place: $75: SOCIETY OF ITALIAN-AMERICAN BUSINESSMEN
1st Place: $75: AMERICA IN MINIATURE
2nd Place: $50: BENCHFIELD FARMS
ANTIQUE VEHICLES (plaques):
1st Place: 1912 MODEL T FORD — DR. POANE
2nd Place: 1914 INDIAN MOTORCYCLE REPLICA — RON TEW
3rd Place: 1976 AMERICAN LAFRANCE PUMPER — STUMP FAMILY
COLOR GUARDS (plaques):
1st Place: HARFORD COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
2nd Place: HARFORD COUNTY MARINE CORPS LEAGUE
MOBILE & MARCHING UNITS (plaques):
1st Placee: HARFORD COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE TRIBUTE CAR
2nd Place: DANCE WITH ME SCHOOL OF DANCE
3rd Placee: BOYLE BUICK-GMC TRUCK
4th Place: BRIGHTVIEW SENIOR LIVING CENTENARIAN OF THE PARADE
5th Place: MIRACLE LEAGUE OF HARFORD COUNTY
EMERGENCY VEHICLES (plaques):
1st Place: LEVEL VFC
2nd Place: JOPPA-MAGNOLIA VFC
COMIC/NOVELTY ACTS (plaques):
1st Place: MICHAEL ROSMAN’S CIRCUS CAMP STARS UNITY BRIGADE
2nd Placee: ULTIMATE RAVEN FANS & HONS
3rd Place: BUONTEMPO BROTHERS
BANDS, DRUM & BUGLE CORPS, MAJORETTE CORPS (plaques):
1st Place: UPTOWN STRING BAND
2nd Place: READING BUCCANEERS
3rd Place: CAROLINA GOLD DRUM & BUGLE CORPS
4th Place: ALLIANCE DRUM & BUGLE CORPS
ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE ENTRY: (plaque): KINETIC YOUTH ACADEMY
NOTABLE PEOPLE (plaques):
“Most Patriotic”: RACHEL BOWLES, 2017 HARFORD-CECIL MISS FIRE PREVENTION
“Best Presentation”: MISS MARYLAND’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2017 CHLOE WILDMAN
“Most Popular with the Crowd”: MARYLAND STATE NURSE OF THE YEAR DEBRA KAUFFMAN
“Most Admired Entry”: LITTLE MISS FIRE PREVENTION 2017 – DELILAH HANKS
“Thank You for Your Service” Award: 20th CBRNE Command & General William King
Winners of awards in the parade are contacted by the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., to deliver their prizes. Parade awards winners may also call 410-879-4245 and leave a message with the service.
The evening ended with a grand fireworks display over Rockfield Park, sponsored by premier sponsor HARFORD MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, which in 2017 is celebrating its 175th anniversary. The fireworks were coordinated by Committee member Bill Smith, under the direction of Don Stewart. The fireworks were exceptionally popular with a very large crowd assembled in Rockfield Park and at other nearby locations; the finale was greeted with cheers and applause.
The entire Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 organization, Don Stewart, President, produces and manages events in Bel Air on July 4, 2017. For more information on the Committee and the 4th of July in Bel Air, Maryland, please visit http://belairjuly4.org, or visit the Bel Air Independence Day Committee Facebook page.